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Best personal organizer apps and software 2021

Best Personal Organizer Apps and Software
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’ve rounded up the best personal organizer apps and software packages, for anyone who needs a little help managing their time. Below, we’ve included a range of products, some of which are app-based and others which you can access directly on your desktop. So whether you’re looking for an online planner or mobile-friendly digital assistant, we’ve got you covered.

It’s worth noting that although we think that 24me is the best personal organizer app overall, it might not necessarily be the best fit for you. Busy families looking for the perfect scheduling tool could benefit from sharing a simple Google Calendar (which is completely free) and people running businesses might prefer to use something like LeaderTask, which lets you manage multiple schedules. Make sure you read the brief descriptions of the products below, to see which organizer meets your needs.

A lot of the best digital planners are actually free, although you might find that special features are only available on the premium version of these products. In general, though, if you’re looking for a simple planner to help manage your life, you shouldn’t need to pay up a huge sum of money for one of these services. 

The really comprehensive digital planners and organizers work seamlessly across computers and mobile devices, although you will find that some will only work on one platform. If it’s important to you to have your to-do lists and schedule across your gadgets, make sure you opt for one that integrates with the devices you already have. Some tools, like 24me, aren’t available as a desktop program, but they make up for it by integrating with things like your smartwatch and smart speakers.


1.  24me: Best for organizing your daily diary 

24me homepage shown across smartwatch, mobile and tablet

(Image credit: 24me)

24me

Ditch the messy paper diary for this slick, simple app

Clean, intuitive interface
Integrates well with email, contacts, calendars
Plenty of notification and alert customisations
Free trial is short
Few in-depth project/business organising tools 

Designed to get your day-to-day life in order, 24me is a virtual assistant app. It's available for iOS and Android, with tier options including a free trial and monthly or annual paid subscriptions (around $5.99 or $35.99 respectively, though both are frequently discounted). It integrates with Apple Watches, Amazon Alexa and Siri, so you can literally tell it what you want it to remember. 

24me puts all aspects of your schedule into one place. The top toolbar lets you switch between the calendar, to do list, notes and notifications. The calendar gives an instant overview of your day, incorporating entries from your events (synced with any calendar accounts on your device), tasks and notes. 

You can set two reminders per entry, as well as the 'nag' function to keep notifying you about something you're putting off. Other handy features include colored tabs to organise your to do list, a weather feature, video and voice capture, an in-app mini gift store to buy presents for upcoming birthdays in your calendar and an alert to tell you when to start your journey to a meeting.


2. Any.do: Best web-based organization software

The Any.do web interface

(Image credit: Any.do)

Any.do

It's free, and available online, but there are limits to what it can do

Free version
Many tools (in the paid version)
Free version is limited

Any.do is available across mobile and desktop platforms, but it really shines on mobile thanks to an easy-to-use interface that gives you all the tools and information you need formatted well for the smaller touchscreens. 

Any.do easily connects to existing calendar apps to import events, and it keeps everything in order by color-coding all your various calendars and events . 

While it may not be as in-depth as other specialized business calendar apps, for most users this is a brilliant way of keeping your meetings and appointments in order. Best of all, there's a free version you can try.


3.  Todoist: Best personal organizer app for scatterbrains 

Todoist interface on iOs mobile device

(Image credit: ToDoIst)

Todoist

Dump your whirring thoughts into here to get (and stay) on track

Allows detailed tasks to be added in a short time
Easy to allocate tasks to other users
Lots of templates for personal and business tasks
Makes completing your to-do list a bit more fun 
Need to pay to get the most out of it 

Available on iOS and Android, Todoist is a visually pared back organizational tool that offers a good deal of flexibility and personalisation. It's essentially a to-do list organizer with a calendar function, but the depth of detail that you can add makes it genuinely useful. 

It is quick and simple to create a task with a due date, priority level and label. If you don't yet know what category a task fits in or are short on time, you can save it to the 'inbox' for sorting at a later date. For full functionality, subscription costs $4 per month or $36 a month, but it is worth it for the bonus features: juggle up to 300 different projects, set 300 tasks, delegate tasks to other users, sync across your devices, review your daily/ weekly/ monthly calendar at a glance, set up reminders by text, email or push notification... the list goes on.

The karma feature gamifies work, rewarding you points for each personally-set goal you pass. That, as well as the nifty visual graphs that let you see your progress, motivates you to keep on top of things.


4. Google Calendar: Best free organizer app

Google Calendar's clean, simple layout page

(Image credit: Google)

Google Calendar

It's free, it's universal, and it's easy to use

Free
Extensive calendar options
Integrates with other Google products
Requires a Google account

If you're a Gmail user, Google Calendar is so well integrated with your email that it's worth at least a look. This is a mature calendar app now, with mobile apps and a robust web client. There's also integration with things like Google Keep's couud-synced notes and the Hangouts chat system.

Additionally, for those with larger screens, Google Calendar will run alongside the emails in your Gmail account, making it easier to see upcoming events and notifications, even before you've been sent them. It also allows reminders to be set according to birthdays, tasks, or general reminders.

The big strength of Google Calendar is that it's a cloud-based app that can sync through all of your devices, if you sign into a Google account. This means that it doesn't matter whether you're on a desktop or on the go with a smartphone, you can still have the same calendar available, and notifications, too.

While Google Calendar is relatively simple and straightforward, lacking some of the bells and whistles of other programs, not least color coded entries, that can be as much of a strength as anything. And as Google Calendar is free to use, it's hard to go wrong with it.


5. MSD Organizer: Best for organizing budgets

The MSD Organizer interface

(Image credit: MSDSoft)

MSD Organizer

If you need to organize numbers and budgets, this is the app for you

Data backup reminders 
Easy to use
Lots of tools
Only access data through Google 
No mobile app

Available as freeware or a paid-for Pro version,  MSD Organizer has a ton of tools to keep your life in order. Each resource is located on a panel across the top of the screen including a calendar and to-do list. 

It's easy to alter your schedule with the calendar's drop-and-drag feature and the to-do list is incredibly detailed. You can see everything from a job's completion status and how much time you have left to finish. 

There are also templates for organizing your budget, health records, music and even your property. The address book is extremely easy-to-use and while there isn't an app and the support options aren't great, the MSD Organizer Pro has a ton of tools if you love being organized. 


6. LeaderTask: Best organizer for managing teams

The Leadertask interface

(Image credit: LeaderTask, LLC)

LeaderTask

Need to manage other people's time too? LeaderTask is ideal

 Great for organizing employees' time
 Good daily task management 
  No built-in journal 

The clean, modern design of LeaderTask displays your daily to-dos until you check them off the list. You can also note whether a project is urgent or use the app with a group of people and assign chores to each signed-in member. That makes LeaderTask a great tool for managing employees. 

The software puts an emphasis on long-term goals while the calendar helps you stay on top of day-to-day tasks. You can add birthdays and holidays, but this program is best for work. The desktop version of this software can also save to a thumb drive or other storage device so you can access it at work, at home or on your phone.


7. AnyTime Organizer Deluxe: Best desktop-based personal organization software 

Anytime Organizer Deluxe interface with overlaid pop-up option

(Image credit: Individual Software)

AnyTime Organizer Deluxe

Yes, it's old-fashioned - but it has one of the easiest to navigate interfaces.

Easy to use
Connects to Google calendar
Extra templates and reports 
No Android or iOS app integration
No access to your data via the cloud  

AnyTime Organizer Deluxe has an easy to navigate interface that even a novice could use. That said, its visuals are in dire need of updating - and it also doesn't come with a companion mobile app. It does integrate nicely with Google Calendar, so you can sync your data with that app and download it to your phone. This feels like a bit of an inconvenience, though.

Really, we'd only recommend this product if you're someone who's not computer literate. The software is really easy to navigate, and lets you do things like add to-do lists, calendar dates, address book details and budget templates . You can set up recurring events, such as anniversaries, and other important dates, like meetings, appointments and bill due dates.

The handy in-program reminders are easy to set up, and a scrolling ticker atop the program keeps upcoming events fresh in your mind. It even alerts you when you have conflicting scheduled events, and makes it easy for you to reschedule them.

The application can only be accessed via password, which deters prying eyes. It also has a built-in password manager, which can store all your passwords, PINs and usernames so you never get locked out of a site again. 


Personal organizer apps: Tools and feature

All of the organizers come with similar organizing tools such as address books, calendars, note sections and task lists; however, the planning programs differ in convenience features. For example, all of the organizer software we evaluated offers either a calendar or date planner, but only some of these organizers allow you to assign your tasks a priority level and remind you about upcoming events. Likewise, not many of the organization programs alert you to events with conflicting times. Programs with all of these features rank high in our line-up, as each one greatly improves organization.

Each program has a to-do list tool. To test these lists, we tracked tasks and evaluated how the programs alerted us to each task. Programs with reminders, filters and categories make it easy to customize to-do lists to work best with your organization style. We also took note of the programs that allow you to adjust each to-do item’s priority level, as this feature helps you complete your tasks in an efficient manner.

All of the organizers we reviewed come with an address book to hold your contact information for a large number of people. While some of the programs include extra features, such as the ability to add a photo to your contact or access driving directions, each software’s address book functioned similarly.

Personal organizer apps: Security and passwords

Organizing software is set apart from personal information managers like Microsoft Outlook by its security features. Since you are likely to store personal information in your organizer, a program’s security features are just as important as the tools available. All of the programs we reviewed are protected by passwords to keep your data secure. Some of the organization software can also generate passwords and securely store them for email, social media and other websites.

Personal organizer apps: Usability

While each organizing program has a unique feature set, we evaluated the usability of the software and the effectiveness of its tools. Our ease of use score considers how easy it is to input events into the calendar, add tasks to the to-do-list, create notes or journal entries, add contacts to the address book and use the password manager. The score also factors in the presence of features that make the above tasks easy to complete. For example, the ability to create a recurring event improved the usability of the calendar and resulted in a higher ease of use score.

There is little difference in the usability of the organizers we reviewed; they’re all rather intuitive and easy to use. While the address book and notes tools were included in our score, the differences between these two tools are minimal from one application to the next.

Personal organizer apps: Syncing across devices

Some of the programs we reviewed include a mobile app. Using this organizing app, you can access your information on your smartphone from anywhere. Most of the planning software syncs with Android and iOS systems and some even with Windows phones. Downloading these apps and syncing them to their desktop is easy. Some of the applications don’t include apps and instead sync with Google or upload your information to the cloud.

When software uploads to the cloud, your organizer is always up to date on all of your devices, making it the best option. However, most cloud services require a subscription fee to store your information. If your software doesn’t upload to the cloud, you have to sync the planning software on your computer to your smartphone’s app, or vice versa, each time you input data.

Many of the programs automatically import data, contacts and events from Google when you give them access to your account. This feature is very useful if you are already using Google to keep track of your tasks. It also provides you with another way to access the information on the software from a handheld device. During testing, we were able to import information from Google with ease using the programs that have this feature.

Personal organizer apps: Export options

If you use the planning software as a word processor or need to export your calendar, to-do list or address book, it’s important to find software that exports the file types you use. For example, if you use the software’s journal feature, you want to export the files either in text or PDF format. Most of the programs export text files, with the best organizing software exporting CSV, XML, HTML and PDF formats.

Ian has been a journalist for 20 years. He's written for magazines and websites on subjects such as video games, technology, PC hardware, popular (and unpopular) science, gardening and astronomy. In his spare time he has a pet tortoise and grows his own vegetables.